Traces of the ancient hydrothermal zone found under the Chiksulub crater

The asteroid that crashed into the Earth 66 million years ago, not only destroyed the dinosaurs, but also created one of the largest hydrothermal zones in history. Scientists have made such a discovery by drilling rocks deep beneath the Chicxulub Crater, according to Science Advances.

The huge crater is located on the Yucatan Peninsula and is the subject of numerous scientific studies. Ten years ago, experts found that rock layers with characteristic signs of space impact (for example, traces of melting) were cut by veins of younger minerals such as quartz and anhydrite. This shows that some time after the disaster, hot hydrothermal flows circulated near Chiksulub.

Hydrothermal zones occur in tectonically active zones. So, under the Yellowstone Park in the USA, red-hot magma rises from the bowels of the earth to the surface and heats groundwater. But Yucatan has been at rest for more than 60 million years.

The participants of the new expedition drilled wells up to 1335 meters deep under the ring of the crater and extracted long core samples. Analysis immediately showed that they underwent a hydrothermal change. The intense heat of the circulating sea water caused chemical reactions inside the rock, turning some minerals into others. The initial heating temperature was more than 572 degrees Fahrenheit, but then dropped to 194.

Chemically altered rocks under the crater extended about four to five kilometers in depth. This is nine times the size of the Yellowstone Caldera System.

The hydrothermal system lasted more than a million years. Scientists came to the conclusion that it was an “ideal habitat” for extremophile germs, similar to those that live in the boiling pools of Yellowstone. A liquid saturated with metals served as an excellent source of energy, and the pores in the rocks were convenient “shelters” for the colonies.

Perhaps the first life on Earth originated in just such a system – the hydrothermal zone that arose after the impact of the asteroid. About 3.9 billion years ago, our planet survived the cosmic “bombing”. Most of the craters of that era have already disappeared under the influence of tectonic processes, but Chiksulub shows how they might look and what processes could occur in them.

Previously, scientists found that the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs entered the Earth’s surface at the deadliest angle. He lifted the maximum amount of dust into the air. Clouds clouded the entire sky and caused a “nuclear” winter.